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Designing a Match Day Warm-Up

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

This week's MSC video breakdown looks at an extremely important aspect of the game, but for some reason the planning and execution of it are rarely spoken about in the coaching community. One of the many reasons why the match day warm-up is so important for coaches is the direct impact that it has on all four corners of the game. It may not win or lose you a game, but an ineffective warm-up can make it considerably more difficult for players to perform once the game starts. In order to maximize our limited time in the warm-up, it's important to break the warm-up down and evaluate it's impact on the game itself. Of course, there is a physical aspect to it that we must understand and take into account in order to prepare our players for the demands of the game. However, the technical and tactical components cannot be overlooked either. As coaches, we want to make sure that all the boxes are ticked and that the players have a clear understanding of what team and positional roles are heading into the game. That directly impacts confidence and therefore the mental/psychological side of the game.

Although the match day warm-up can seem like a mini-training session to get everyone ready, coaches must be careful about how it is constructed and managed. There are a number of differences between a training session and a match day warm-up, with the mental load just as important as the physical load. Having players comfortable and confident in the game plan can require a different skillset from a coaching point of view than perhaps challenging and stretching them does.

In the video breakdown, we take a look at the recent international friendly between Nigeria and Ecuador and how each team adapted the different aspects of technical and tactical exercises. Attacking pattern play is used in many warm-ups, often to help reinforce in-possession themes, as well as giving players technical reps specific to their position You can watch the full session with the breakdown of each exercise on the video below. If you enjoy it, please subscribe to our YouTube page so you do not miss the next one.

If you are looking for more warm-up information, here is a previous post on Liverpool's pre-season warm-up from their US tour in 2019 that is referenced during the video.

This video was part of the launch of our new MSC eBook:Twenty Attacking Training Sessions, designed to help coaches connect the dots between philosophy, tactical flexibility and session design. The book contains twenty full session plans that are broken down into three phases: build-up, midfield progression, and goal-scoring. Each session will contain three exercises so there are 60 exercises overall! With his experience in the professional game as a coach and an analyst, Gary Curneen has designed these sessions to help bring out intensity, tactical understanding and game-like situations, that are enjoyable for both players and staff. Click here to get your copy.

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